Chicken Delight


The company was started in Illinois in 1952 by American entrepreneur Al Tunick a pioneer in fast food franchising. Tunick purchased some deep fryers from a restaurant that was going out of business. He and some friends tried cooking different foods looking for a product other than french fries. At that time, chicken was pan-fried, steamed or oven-roasted. Due to the long cooking times, it was not a good fast-food item. Tunick coated some chicken in a spicy breading and lowered it into the hot oil. The chicken cooked much faster while the juices remained sealed inside. Thus, Chicken Delight was born.

He decided to market his method through small take-out and delivery locations. It was near the end of the Korean War when many women were working outside the home and had no time to cook. The slogan 'Don't Cook Tonight . . . Call Chicken Delight' became a household phrase throughout North America.

Chicken Delight quickly grew to more than 1,000 units throughout the United States and became the biggest fast-food company of its kind in North America. Chicken Delight is one of the oldest, if not the oldest chicken fast-food franchisor in the world. In 1958 a group of local businessmen in Winnipeg purchased the Chicken Delight trademarks and franchising rights for Canada and started the first store in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. In the same year another outlet opened its doors in St. Boniface, a location that is still in operation to this day.

By the mid 60's there were more than 50 units under Chicken Delight of Canada Ltd. About the same time, franchisees across the U.S. challenged the franchisor in court with the practice of requiring franchisees to buy their equipment and packaging from head office. Under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act stating the head office could not sell products above fair market value, the case was won by the franchisees. Consequently, the franchisor's main source of revenue dried up. The number of units declined significantly in the U.S. and the impact was felt in Canada as well.

Unaware of the possible consequences of the case, local entrepreneur Otto Koch purchased his first Chicken Delight franchise in 1969. Seeing the potential of the chain in Canada, Koch built and acquired additional franchise locations and in 1976 bought Chicken Delight of Canada Ltd. A big task lay ahead to rebuild an ailing franchise system. Koch concentrated on revitalizing the system in Canada by updating the stores and recreating the Chicken Delight name and brand image. By providing quality service and cleanliness, the Canadian operation once again began to prosper. This success led to Koch's acquisition of the U.S. and International arm - Chicken Delight International Inc. in 1979. For the first time the total Chicken Delight system was under one roof. Since then, Chicken Delight has continued to prosper under the guidance of past and current President and Owner Mr. Otto Koch. Meeting ever changing consumer demands with system improvements and the introduction of new menu items has led to the long lasting success of the company.
In Canada.
In the lowley United States Chicken Delight has faded from view thanks to chains like Popeyes, Churches, and the Vatican of fried chicken...
K.F.C.

They Always Come Back:
Chicken Delight franchises in the United States are few but they do exist.
If you are in New Jersey you can try your luck with these last known stateside locations:
Dumont
404 East Madison Ave.
201-385-2400

Hillsdale
100 Broadway
201-666-8828

Jersey City
731 Montgomery Street
201-433-3012

416 Central Avenue
201-659-4690

North Bergen
7718 Bergen Line Avenue
201-869-4900

Rahway
1685 Street George Avenue
201-388-3513

West Paterson
McBride Avenue & Rt. 46
201-256-8863

I'd call for you to see if they still exist but... clearly I'm lazy.

48 comments:

Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Don't lose steam, Gavin! I'm loving these, and I think I'm also losing my fan base to you (in case you've not seen my plug for you yesterday). Jeez, you would be the champion on Jeopardy's Weird '70s Shit theme night. Do you happen to know the back story on the pie shop that is featured in Edie Sedgwick's "Ciao Manhattan"? I think it's an actual chain that was in Santa Barbara. I vaguely remember one called Billie Lee's in the Midwest that was sort of a Marie Callander knock off.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Chicken Delight in California is closed now. It's still on the Canada website but there's a story elsewhere about it closing late last year for some trendy new eatery. :(

Gavin Elster said...

Sadly I just found that article too. That was the hollywood Blvd location. That means New Jersey is the last stateside home of CD

Anonymous said...

My family ate at the Richmond, California CD back in the 60s...
"Don't cook tonight...Call Chicken
Delight!"

Chris said...

There is a Chicken Delight still going strong in West Paterson, NJ

Anonymous said...

My parents owned 3 different Chicken Delights in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 60s-70s! I sure do miss the great chicken I grew up on. Wish we could find a way to bring this company back to life here in CA!

Anonymous said...

Chicken Delight is also very big in Staten Island and Old Westbury Long island .
If anyone is interested in opening a Chicken Delight in the United States just go to the Chicken Delight website and they explain how it works.
Chicken Delight to me is the best fast food chicken anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Yes Chicken Delight is looking for people to open up new locations .
If your in a State without Chicken Delight contact them about what is required to start your onw Chicken Delight.

Anonymous said...

Back in '68 in Newport Beach, Calif. I used to order the shrimp dinners--about 4 or 5 of 'em at a sitting! The chicken was too dry, but those shimps wuz just right...I miss that simple phone call--it'd make some shit SO much easier, ya know?

Anonymous said...

Hi all,
Chicken Delight has two locations in New York one on Staten Island and the other on Long Island in Old Westbury.
Someon needs to open some more in the United States

Anonymous said...

If you live in an area where Chicken Delight does not exist call them on their website and look into opening your own Chicken Delight .

Charles Sorrell said...

My Dad bought a Chicken D franchise on 'The Strip' in Knoxville, Tn in 1964. I delivered thousands of dinners to UT students while I was in high school and working at the restaurant. He closed it in 1970.
One funny story; the business next door was a commercial photographer and he was hired by the local KFC chain to photo their food for new menu boards. He used our chicken, because he said it was more 'photogenic" (and tasted better)

Anonymous said...

CD was frigging great, there was one in highland park a suburb of LA, my brother and i and friends survived on CD and your right the shrimp could be much better at times, i truly miss the stores --- not to change the subject --- but ive searched for some years to find out what happened to 'henrys restuarants' i think they had a chicken or rooster with a broken golf club? yeah i know it sounds crazy, it was certainly several grades up from a CD, but relatives took me along for years as a kid, i learned to love salads there - id just like to know what happened to em because there were several hundred or thousand across the country??? i think that was there dinner mat, telling you to drive this way and hit all the henrys -- but my main reason is to find the receipe for those wonderful small baked southern rolls, which always had a slight flour touch left over after baking --- anyone know anything about them or heard of them even, its funny not to find out any fact on the net..... enjoy your next meal

Karen said...

I, too, remember the Chicken Delight in Richmond, CA, although I was pretty young at the time. Every time I pass the old storefront, I remember that tune much more than eating the chicken. Also, I believe this outlet did home delivery? Somehow, I think I remember a VW bug or a similar-type vehicle that sported the chicken perched atop the roof? Thanks for this posting!

David said...

WORKED FOR CD IN THE LATE 60'S WHEN IT WAS OWNED BY CONSOLIDATED FOODS.

Anonymous said...

Just found this site today while looking for info on Chicken Delight. I remember CT locations but no one else I've spoken to seems to remember it. So happy to find this info. In response to anonymous who asked on Dec 9, 2009 about Henry's, I'm not familiar with that chain but it intrigued me so I did some googling & found this piece, ironically published the same week (on Dec 1) :
http://www.dailybulletin.com/davidallen/ci_13901407
Hope this helps w/your research!

Anonymous said...

The West Paterson CD appears to bwe closed but there are other places to get the chicken. Due to the franchise problem some owners continued on but just dropped the name. One such location is called Chicken Glaore in Fair Lawn. Used ot be a CD and they've been there since the 50's apparently.

Anonymous said...

Karen and others, I grew up in Marin County and remember getting Chicken Delight delivered to our home frequently (my mom was a great cook, but it was the 60's so why bother?). I wonder if there was one in San Rafael or if it came over from Richmond? I loved the taste of that chicken. I can still taste it!
I'm in Boston now, so happy to know there are some in NJ

Anonymous said...

i remember the massapequa and lindenhurst long island locations. and also in charlotte,north carolina which was located in bettes ford rd., it turned to mr.c,s and is recently torn down.

Anonymous said...

saturaday night fever had a bay ridge delight which used to be a chicken delight(it had a cd mascot).

Anonymous said...

oh yes the used to sell fish and shrimp

Anonymous said...

a couple were converted to chicken tonight,(not to be confused to the ragu sauce), in lindenhurst n.y. , pudgies, chicken galore, and cluck u chicken, mostly in jersey.

Anonymous said...

i used to listen to dan ingram on wabc radio in the 1960s and it was his big sponser. dont cook tonight call chicken delight and dan used to go yessssssssssssss sirrrrrrrrrrrr.

Charlene said...

Otto Koch died on December 28, 2010 at his home in Winnipeg.

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Chicken-Delight-boss-was-frugal-generous-112709484.html

Anonymous said...

Chicken Delight in Hillsdale, NJ, has been a fixture for decades. I know I'm not the only kid who grew up there and has memorized "666-8828" as the "Don't Cook Tonight" hotline.

The chicken and pizza are strong as always, but the other items vary as there's apparently no clear company standard. It basically is a local chicken and pizza (and rib, and fish, and shrimp, and...) joint with company branding. Which is ok with me -- they're nice people, and the familiar old logo has been a landmark for generations now.

shelly b said...

I used to go to Chicken Delight in the 60's and early 70's in Bay Ridge,Brooklyn New York. They delivered and I would always order when I was alone and not feeling well. They would even pick up cigarettes for me if I asked. I miss CD and was happy to hear that they are still operating.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember my dad sending me to CD in Philadelphia during the 60's and 70's to get a bucket of chicken for dinner. Yes there were great and I was thinking about that just the other day. What memories!!!!

Pete said...

Back in the 60's and 70's, there was a Chicken Delight in Tacoma, WA accross the street from Wright's Park on Division. Not sure when it shutdown; however, It must have just became too expensive to operate. The food was just great, and it was a great place to just stop and rest. Remember the TV commercial, 'Don't Cook Tonight !! Eat at Chicken Delight'? Those were the good ole days: Not only was Brotherhood fashionable, Brotherhood was spreading in the hearts and minds of us all, and considered a noble way to be. Also, TV-commercials and most everything else was not so doggone expensive!

usnay said...

Used to order great Pizza when in Denver. Especially when it snowed. They also delivered beer. Wowser!

A More Excellent Way said...

I am a native of Harlem, NY and I loved Chicken Delight. I loved giving the man a tip for a moment I thought we were rich(lol). I especially loved the fact that they delivered the food to our door. This was in the 60s and I don't know where in Manhattan the store was located but when I became an adult I looked for it and found one in the 20s in Manhattan and of course they no longer delivered but I feasted on the memories.

helen said...

Hi! I like to let you know that I grew up eating,CHICKEN DELIGHT,here in West Covina,California.It was on VINCENT AVENUE,when it was taken away from us.It was the very best tasty chicken around.It made our friday and saturdAY nites meals the best fun meals we ate.I wish they would bring,CHICKEN DELIGHT,back to our town,again. THANK YOU FOR TIME,HELEN

QC Native now in GA said...

I am from Rock Island, IL and Al Tunick was a family friend. The chicken was great. The California franchisees who sued over so called illegal tying agreements, killed the goose that laid the golden egg. A real pyrrhic victory.

Anonymous said...

I am from 37412 Herzberg/Harz, Germany, and Otto Koch was my grandpa's neighbor! He would visit his former hometown quite often and he was very respected here. A natural gentleman.

Greetings,
Ralf

Donna Uhler said...

My father owned 3 Chicken Delights is the 60's and 70's. They were in Oakland and San Leandro California. I grew up stapling napkins to the plates. My sister was six and would dress up in a chicken custom and walk back and forth in front of the store as advertizement. She still has mental damage about that.

Chicken Delight should market their chicken batter. They could make a ton of money and I could once again indulge in that wonderful flavor.

Donna Uhler, daughter of William

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Thousand Oaks, CA and we had a CD in our area (Simi Valley) and it was GREAT. Never had chicken that good before or since and yes that includes KFC which is a poor substitute. And I loved the little "don't cook tonight Call Chicken Delight" jingle - all the kids knew it, always ran on t.v. back in the day. The rolls and slaw were good too. Everything just tasted better then! but their chicken was very good. I miss it!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a picture of the old Beetles they used for delivery cars? With the giant chicken?

GrapeJellyBelly said...

A Chicken Delight is opening soon in Burlington NC on Huffman Mill Road. I had never heard of it, and found your blog while researching it online. Is the chicken good? I'm a southern girl. Do they really know how to fry chicken? Guess we will know soon enough! Thanks for this post!

Barbara said...

Hi Ralf from 37412 Herzberg/Harz, Germany,

you posted anonymous so I can't really get back to you, but Herzberg is my hometown and my address was: Marktplatz
I can't figure out who your grandpa was. Any hint??
I am working for Chicken Delight in Canada. Actually had CD for lunch today and it is as good as always.

Sorry to tell you that Otto Koch passed away last December, just a few days short of Christmas. He is very much missed in the business world and by his loyal employees and all his friends in Canada and in Germany

Greetings,
Barbara

Anonymous said...

There were 3 in Tacoma - Villa Plaza, Highland Hill and Division across from Wrights Park. Villa Plaza closed in about 1974 and the other two were re-named Mr. Chicken. I do not believe that they lasted through 1975. I last worked at the remaining store on Division in April 1975. I was a driver and a cook, but the Colonel won out and the sales never supported the business.

Anonymous said...

There was a chicken delight right next door to the Executive Room bar on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. This is the bar where Billy Joel played the piano for six months in 72. He surely ate his share of chicken and was using his middle name Martin, he was kinda hiding out at this place because of a bad record deal he signed. Piano Man was written about this bar.

Anonymous said...

There was a Chicken Delight in Santa Rosa, Ca. Am I remembering right that the food was delivered on heavy paper plates with another stapled on top?

Anonymous said...

there was a chicken delight on Main St in Passaic, NJ when I was a kid (50's). But what I remember most was their delivery vehicle - a Metropolitan with a big plastic chicken on the roof, lit fom inside. I can still see that little car riding around Passaic, delivering chicken to those who choose to "not cook that night" (paraphraseed). Anyone else remember those Metropolitans with the chicken? DREICHEL123@yahoo.com
a picture would be worth a thousand words

Anonymous said...

When I was a little boy back in the 60's my parents ordered Chicken Delight all the time here in California. I sure do miss it. I hope someday they come back to California. I sorta remember the logo back then ... something like "everything is right with Chicken Delight" Great food !!!!

Anonymous said...

We use to buy chicken delight in Davenport, Iowa. I wish they would come back or at least close by as it was the best tasting chicken ever and KFC cannot compare to it. Sometimes I get so hungry for it. It was a treat to go stay at my sister's just so we could have some, we lived 30 miles away in Muscatine. I hope someone decides to bring it back or give us the recipe to make at home. Judi

Anonymous said...

My wife and I miss the chicken delight which was located on 15th street in Moline, Illinois. It could have been the 1st CD. We went there most Saturday afternoons before we were married. This was during 1949 and 1950. I went into the military in January 1951 and it was still there. We were married in 1951. We often talk about their excellent chicken.

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Anonymous said...

The chicken delight in west Patterson sucks , none of these locations in jersey have the original taste or look that CD had in the past , the chicken taste blah and to say the least , I remember smelling there chicken from miles away, as my wife says nothing stays the same , the FDA has changed the way we eat and everything has something in it so the taste is much different . I have eaten at all the locations listed here, being that I'm from jersey and I can now tell everyone that the old CD is dead, nothing compares and never will, thanks for the memories....

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